What’s In a Resume?

What’s In a Resume?

If we paid attention to the current culture of resumes, we might be surprised to learn that resumes are evolving just as much as our technology continues to transform the way we do business and live life.  Resumes are no longer just a nicely formatted bullet point list of engaging descriptions of work experience chronologically backwards and in Garamond (or Arial or Times New Roman) font.  Don’t believe us?  Check out this article by Business Insider on the 16 most creative resumes posted last year… which begs the question, what new resumes would have made the list today?  Resumes have transformed dramatically in the last five years, ranging from YouTube videos to interactive and cleverly summarized infographics as demonstrated by our very own BlueSky President, Jeffrey Stout’s revu resume.

Not in an industry that welcomes resumes like this yet?  What about a facelift for the traditional resume like this PDF resume?

A photo?  Different font colors?  My college career center would not have approved, but things might be different if I made a visit there today.  The reality is times have changed and resumes have, too.  We scoured the web for all the most recent resume tips and compiled a list of the top six suggestions we think you’ll want to know.  So keep on reading to find out what we’ve learned and want to share with you. 

1. Who are you?

Traditional resumes do a great job of communicating what you’ve done, but they do a poor job of communicating who you are.  Who you are is just as important as what you’ve done.  What’s that mean?  Your behaviors are just as important as your job titles.  How would others describe you? Sure, they may have respected your title as a regional vice president, but chances are the reasons they really enjoyed working with you had more to do with your behaviors than that title. These same behaviors may motivate your prospective employer to work with you, and indicate whether you will be a cultural fit. You led 5 full life cycle deployments, but what was your leadership style? Do you have an entrepreneurial spirit, or do well established processes and procedures free you to do your best work? Do you prefer competition or collaboration? What motivates you and gives you a feeling of success? A summary at the beginning of a resume is a prime spot for hosting this information, and it can be integrated into your bullet points as well. That said, with limited room in the 1-2 pages of a resume, consider that a LinkedIn profile can work hand in hand with a resume and complement your resume with additional information. For example, your bonsai hobby may not fit nicely within your resume, but does it convey patience and attention to detail, behaviors that some employers value highly? Absolutely – add it to your LinkedIn profile summary.

2. Keep a List

Keep a long running list of all your work experiences.  This is not your resume.  This is the meat to your resume, with all the details you can pick and choose from.  List what you did, when you did it, and where you did it, but also provide examples.  Met a goal the company set by going above and beyond expectations?  Make it a bullet point and add an example of how.  Revisit your resume list quarterly or semi-annually, as you would your job performance.  Make notes of what you did, because nobody else will do it for you and just like it’s your career, it’s your resume – the one thing besides networking that will help you get your foot in the door for an in person interview.  Once you’re actually applying for a job, even if you don’t have relevant experience, there are always transferrable skills and experiences that can help demonstrate why you’re a good fit.  But without this long meaty list, you may find it difficult to do. 

3. Use Numbers

The next tip we liked most?  Use numbers.  Quantify your accomplishments.  Helped improve a margin or overall revenue – by how much? How many employees were you in charge of?  Figures quickly and succinctly help you communicate how you impacted a company.

4. Keep Formatting Simple and Clear

In terms of formatting, the old rules still apply.  Make the relevant experience first (from top to bottom), keep it simple, and make it easy to scan and engage with.  This means appropriate font, with some jazz in your headline to make your name pop out, but this is where some research to understand the company or companies you’re applying for is necessary.  Depending on what industry the company is in, you may want to use some graphics, or even link to an interactive portfolio online of your work, a presentation or a video.  We still think bullet points are the way to go with listing your job experience, but provide examples.  Show them what you did by answering how?  Use important keywords here but don’t over do it with buzz words like “synergy” and “empowerment” (to name a few of our favorites).  Also, while we’re at it, we like adverbs, but use them correctly and avoid redundancy or using the thesaurus for another way to say successfully.  Lastly, with formatting, save it as your resume, not just a generic resume, and by that we mean use your first and last name.  This makes it easy for the recruiter or other recipients, to locate it on their computer.   

5. Limit Complex Jargon

One important thing that we all tend to forget is that the first person who normally sees our resume may not be someone who understands all the relative jargon.  So while using keywords is important to get noticed much like search engine optimization, over complicating it with too much impressive jargon can make it difficult to scan through your resume.  Your experience, though impressive, should be easy to understand with relatively limited specific jargon.  Of course IT specific jobs have references to acronyms galore, we’re not saying avoid that or even to write it all out, we’re simply touching on the jargon you might puff up that might not be completely necessary. 

6. Manage Your Social Media Presence

One of the most important things college career centers advise students preparing their resumes is making sure their social media presence is appropriate and one the company they intend to work for and are applying to would approve of.  Certainly not a problem we would ever have had to deal with before, but with a simple Google search, we can find someone’s Facebook, LinkedIn, Tumblr, Twitter, even Yelp profile!  It certainly brings new debate into the “personal” section you may have included in your resume before.  We know you thought carefully about whether or not to include your musical experience to show you’re well rounded, or that you were an Eagle Scout, but if you’ve got a unique name and are not mindful, all your political and religious opinions may also be on the table along with your weekend adventures.  The younger generation tends to know this, but those of us in the middle of somewhere millennial or Generation Y with recent social media profiles might not be as aware.  So you’ve been told.  Now make sure you control what is out there for others to view publicly. 

7. Save it as a PDF

And here’s a new one that we never did in the good old resume days. Our interns brought this one to our attention (shows how old much experience some of us have here) and we loved it!  Save your resume as a PDF.  This makes it easy for people to forward without fear of losing any formatting that you so carefully proofed.  Make sure it opens properly as a PDF while you’re at it too. 

So now that we’ve got you thinking about resumes, when’s the last time you updated yours?  Chances are, you were getting ready to look for a job out of college, or making a change from one job to another.  Outside of aiding a successful job search, we don’t pay much attention to resumes, and often times struggle to recall our meaningful work experiences when the time comes to update them.  Avoid that, and follow our tip of starting your long list of work experiences today!

Daisy Phillips